The Washington Post

Barack Obama gets senioritis, heads to Starbucks

For the second time in nearly as many weeks, President Obama escaped the White House to mingle with the common people -- one of whom, the buzz around town has it, he would very much like to be.

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The (short) walk immediately followed Obama's speech on relieving student loan debt, as though the thought of college suddenly inspired a craving for caffeine. Obama opted for tea instead of coffee, according to one of the many reporters on the scene. (It's the president, after all, so suddenly a Starbucks run gets blanket coverage.) According to the pool report, the drink was "venti-sized." (Nothing like a steaming cup of tea on a steamy 83 degree day!)

Obama opted for Starbucks instead of the Peet's Coffee (formerly Caribou) that used to be a regular haunt for his staffers. This is perhaps out of loyalty to his constituency — Starbucks drinkers, true to stereotype, were more likely to back Obama than John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

When he left the White House, Obama proclaimed, "The bear is loose!" according to the White House press corps. That's the same expression he used in late May, when he took an unscheduled walk over to the Department of the Interior. At the time, we documented the president's new-found interest in getting out of the house: a trip to a Little League game, a jaunt to Shake Shack.

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The "bear" analogy is a weird one, implying a furious beast swatting heavily at the bars of his cage. (Kind of like in this iconic Reagan ad.) That's not really the vibe you get from a guy walking across the street to grab tea with his colleague. It seems more like, I don't know, a college senior who still has a bunch of credits he needs and who just needs to step away from his Chemistry mid-term for, like, 30 minutes.

This is what a president with senioritis does in 2014.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

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